Having stormed to power on the back of a massive anti-graft movement, the AAP government today presented the Janlokpal Bill in the Assembly which will empower the proposed ombudsman to act against any public servant in the national capital including those of the Centre, a move that may spark a fresh face off between the two.
The bill has proposed harsh punishment for proven charges of corruption including rigorous imprisonment ranging between six months and ten years and, in rarest of rare cases, life imprisonment and fine. The higher the rank of the errant public servant, the greater will be the punishment.
Under the bill, Lokpal will have powers to probe even acts of corruption against Union Ministers and central government officials, a contentious provision which may trigger another round of confrontation between the Kejriwal government and the Centre.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, tabling the Bill, termed it as the most “effective and independent” in India’s history and said it is similar to the one that came up during the 2011 Anna movement, rejecting allegations of it being “completely different”.
The Lokpal, with its own investigating wing, will make probe time-bound, with maximum time limit for completing an inquiry fixed at six months. In exceptional cases, the time limit can be extended up to 12 months.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the bill as the “strongest” anti-graft law in Independent India.
“Congratulations Manish for presenting the strongest anti -corruption law of Independent India – Delhi JanLokpal Bill 2015. A historic day,” he tweeted.
The bill seeks to provide full protection to whistle blowers from physical harm and administrative harassment. For this, the Janlokpal may issue orders and directions to the Government or any other authority to provide security and protection to whistle blowers.
Sisodia said the Janlokpal will have the power to probe every act of graft occuring within the boundaries of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
In case of wilfully malicious and false complaints there is a provision for imprisonment or fine or both.
As per the bill, a three-member body having one chairperson and two members, will be collectively called Janlokpal and they will be chosen by an independent selection committee to be headed by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, with Delhi Assembly Speaker, Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition as its members.
This committee will have the powers to frame relevant rules under provisions of the bill. .